One of Cambridgeshire's oddest traditions gets under way this morning...
Northants Council's Multi-Million Budget Plans
The County Council in Northants have published their proposals for their year-ahead budget - it's year 2 of their 4 year plan aimed at saving just shy of £67m - over the next 12 months.
The authority says with service demands still soaring across the county and the amount of money available to run them being heavily reduced, the council is publishing the plans aimed at making sure the needs of the most vulnerable are met while keeping council tax among the very lowest in the country.
At the heart of this year's proposals are targets to reduce front line service duplication - where people are receiving more than one service to meet the same need from public services and how this can be streamlined, and a 'fair and equitable' use of council resources.
The proposals also include the first savings to come from consolidating 12 department HQ buildings into the new County Council's Headquarters in Northampton town centre.
The draft proposals include a rise of 3.95per cent in council tax including 1.95per cent for general council services and an additional 2 per cent specifically for adult social services.
The council also outlines how it is embracing the government's view that councils should use capital receipts - that is money generated from property and assets - to help transform local services.
Leader of the council Cllr Heather Smith said:
"Here in Northamptonshire we really are at the fore-front of the country's targets to reduce public spending and therefore look at completely different ways of delivering public services.
This is the second year of the four-year budget plan announced in 2015 and once again it's clear that to be able to continue to deliver services to this county's most vulnerable and meet the ever-growing demand for such services, we have to make savings, generate additional income, and take a fundamental look at how we do things to make sure as a sector we are delivering the best possible value for money.
Cabinet member for finance Cllr Robin Brown said:
"This year we have adopted a zero-based budget approach to all our services. This means that rather than looking at existing budgets and deciding what changes should be made we have started from the position of each service having zero money, and then looking at what they need to deliver their outcomes. This process confirmed that our key services of providing for vulnerable children and adults are facing huge increases in demand with no associated increase in income, so we need to continue to find ways to do things differently across the board.
For example, where people are receiving several services from the council and other organisations, which are all aiming to achieve the same thing for them, we are looking how these can be more streamlined to remove any duplication of effort at a time when we can't afford such duplication.
The government has also made it clear that where possible we should use our assets to help pay for transformation and so we are putting forward proposals that do just that to assist in our work to transform into the Next Generation Council, which is pioneering the way local authorities deliver services."
The budget outlines the largest areas of spend for the council over the next year being:
Children's Services: £131m including:
- An extra £2.3m to cope with the increased number of children needing care
- An extra £1.2m for increasing contract payments and wages
Adult Services: £143m including:
- An extra £1.7m for increasing payments to care o providers to provide better care standards
- An extra £3.9m to cope with increased the increased number of people requiring care
- Place Services including highways, transport and waste: £82m
To help balance the budget a series of service transformations, reviews and cuts are being proposed including:
- £9.8m review of targeted early help service contracts including children's centres
- £12m savings in the purchasing and placements in adult services
- £8.7m savings in removing duplication of services happening across health and adult social care
- £8.5m review of Olympus Care Services
- £20m over four years pursuing Unitary Local Government Model for Northamptonshire
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